To the editor,
Your Thumbs Up/Down in the Saturday/Sunday September 25-26 edition made some valid points, but was also misleading. Your article made it seem like some mysterious “group of people” suddenly showed up at the ISD 88 school board meeting last Thursday. This “group of people” (parents, grandparents, and concerned citizens) has been attending school board meetings for months. This group is NOT seeking to make the school board meetings a “battleground” as you suggest. They are simply bringing their concerns about our children’s health and education to the most appropriate body of decision makers: the elected school board.
To the school board’s credit, the board has been accepting of input and testimony at previous meetings. Because masking mandates was on the agenda, the August meeting was moved into the gym to accommodate the expected larger crowds. At the August meeting, no clear decision was made concerning masking the children, and the people were encouraged to return and attend the September meeting.
Then comes last Thursday’s meeting. The meeting was located in the regular board of education meeting room. Two New Ulm Police Officers were stationed at the door saying only 20 people would be allowed to attend the meeting. Say what? Since when is attendance at a public meeting of the school board limited in attendance? The excuse used was there was volleyball in the gym (and there was). Was this limitation given proper public notice? One member of the board said the board was unprepared for the large crowd. Indeed they were. Aren’t volleyball events scheduled months in advance? Who exactly dropped the ball here? This group of concerned citizens continues to grow, and want to be involved in the education process. To make matters worse, no public input was allowed, even though the publicly published agenda said non-agenda items could be discussed at the end of the meeting. Instead, the meeting was abruptly adjourned.
Your article finishes by belittling the group of concerned citizens by suggesting they “refrain from disruptive behavior.” I can personally say this group has never caused disruptive behavior. If only the same could be said for those with the opposing view. I do agree with you that the space issue needs to be dealt with for future meetings. It would appear our Minnesota education system has woken the sleeping bear (and NOT just in New Ulm).